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Why you should use composite plastic bearings

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Composite plastic bushings provide tailored bearing solutions with predictable lifetime in a wide range of applications. Combining thermoplastics, fibrous reinforcements and solid lubricants, these bushings eliminate maintenance and external lubrication, resist corrosion and debris, fit precisely with little creep, conduct heat efficiently, and dampen vibrations while maintaining a high compressive strength.

Here are the Top Ten reasons why you should consider plastic bearings:

1. Lighter weight than metallic bearings

Using composite plastic bushings instead of metallic plastic bushings can reduce weight by 25% or more. The difference in density between composite plastic materials and metals – 1 to 3 g/cm³ vs. 7 to 9 g/cm³ - makes the weight reduction available with the plastic option very obvious.

2. Corrosion resistance

Metal-free iglide plastic bearings do not rust, and most available materials in the range will not corrode in acidic or basic solutions, or when exposed to traditional lubricants. The iglide product line also includes bearings that are able to resist harsh acids such as hydrochloric acid, as well as UV and other high-energy radiation. However, chemical resistance can change with temperature and chemical concentration; therefore, the specific application conditions must be taken into account.

3. 100% self-lubricating

iglide plastic bearings are designed to run dry, without any external lubrication. Fibre reinforcements create millions of tiny chambers, which house particles of solid lubricant that are released when there’s friction against a shaft. Homogeneous blending of the plastic material means that the lubricant cannot be pressed out, and will last throughout the entire service life of the bearing.

4. Absorbs shock and edge loads, dampens vibration

Plastic bearings run quietly and can absorb or dampen vibrations. Their mechanical loss factor, an indicator of vibration dampening capability, is up to 250 times that of metallic bearings. The fibre-reinforced material blends are tailored to specific application requirements, helping bearings stand up to shock and edge loads in a wide range of application settings.

5. Pairs well with a range of shaft materials

Plastic bearings can pair with any shaft material without corrosion issues, but not all shaft-bearing pairs are equal. Extensive testing and experience have provided igus with a massive database of bearing wear results when paired with different shaft hardness, roughness, and materials makeup. Excellent wear performance depends on pairing the right bushing material with the shaft.

6. Excellent wear rates

When a shaft with a composite plastic bushing starts to move, bits of solid lubricant and thermoplastic abrade to fill shaft imperfections and provide continuous lubrication, minimising stick-slip and wear. Abrasion rates drop dramatically after initial startup, becoming negligible during continuous operation. The plastic bearing offers optimal wear thickness throughout the entire wall thickness of the bearing.

7. No maintenance required

Based on results of thousands of empirical tests, igus specialists can recommend iglide plastic bearings that are ready to ‘fit and forget’. Test data allows engineers to choose the best bearing/shaft combination and predict maintenance-free service life based on application factors. With no need for external lubrication, you get a completely maintenance-free bearing solution.

8. Dirt and dust resistance

Metallic bearings wear prematurely if abrasive dirt particles get into them, but iglide plastic bearings are able to ‘absorb’ these particles, incorporating them into the plastic material itself. Additionally, the absence of grease and oil does not attract debris.

9. Special application materials available

If your application has specific material requirements, such as FDA or EU-directive compliance, the iglide material range offers a number of suitable alternatives. For example, iglide A180, A200, and A500 are all compliant with FDA requirements, and the M250, H, Q, L280, and T500 materials are made from physiologically harmless materials.

10. Materials and customisation available for specific application needs

igus develops numerous new plastic compounds each year, which are tested in bearing form in thousands of tests annually. An iglide bearing is available for you regardless of your application; bearings that need to run underwater, resist high shock loads, fit soft shaft materials or run at extreme temperatures and speeds are a few of the several options available. Currently, igus offers 16 standard materials, along with 32 specialised material options.

For more information, please visit the Treotham Automation website www.treotham.com.au or call 02 9907 1788.

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